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Old 08-09-2015, 09:23   #1
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integrating AIS into my chartplotter

We are looking to add some AIS functionality to our sailing adventures.

Right now I have a VHF radio (with DSC) with a masthead antenna. It's linked to the chartplotter/GPS so that the DSC function is enabled correctly. That's working well - I can see the GPS coordinates on the VHF display. The VHF and GPS are simply connected with a small two conductor wire. Easy and works good!

We also have a Lowrance Elite 7 chartplotter/gps combo. Works great too - love it. I see that there is an AIS screen on the Elite 7 combo menu, so I'm assuming it is "AIS enabled".

My questions are these . . .
  • what do I need to get to make the AIS screens work? Some type of additional antenna? or a receiver/transmitter unit? both?
  • Does anyone if the Lowrance Elite 7 screen is just for "receive"?
  • Any other words of wisdom on making this work?
thank you - sorry if these are basic/dumb questions, but I just cant seem to get my mind wrapped around this one.


~markb
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Old 08-09-2015, 09:45   #2
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Re: integrating AIS into my chartplotter

Quote:
Originally Posted by bratzcpa View Post
We are looking to add some AIS functionality to our sailing adventures.

Right now I have a VHF radio (with DSC) with a masthead antenna. It's linked to the chartplotter/GPS so that the DSC function is enabled correctly. That's working well - I can see the GPS coordinates on the VHF display. The VHF and GPS are simply connected with a small two conductor wire. Easy and works good!

We also have a Lowrance Elite 7 chartplotter/gps combo. Works great too - love it. I see that there is an AIS screen on the Elite 7 combo menu, so I'm assuming it is "AIS enabled".

My questions are these . . .
  • what do I need to get to make the AIS screens work? Some type of additional antenna? or a receiver/transmitter unit? both?
  • Does anyone if the Lowrance Elite 7 screen is just for "receive"?
  • Any other words of wisdom on making this work?
thank you - sorry if these are basic/dumb questions, but I just cant seem to get my mind wrapped around this one.

~markb
Alright I will take a stab at this..

First.. Decide if you want Receive only, or if you want to transmit AIS information as well. There are many threads that go back and forth on this so you will need to make your own opinion. For me, I decided it was worth it to transmit.

Second.. You will need to decide on the AIS device you will buy. Your Lowrance Elite is just a display and requires an AIS device to do that function. There are quality AIS devices from all manufactures and again, form your own opinion. The AIS device will hook up to your display via NMEA 2000 bus (another thing to research). This should be pretty straight forward if you just have the display and AIS device. Here is a good supplier of various AIS hardware.
Welcome to Milltech Marine - your AIS experts

Third.. You will need to decide if you want to share an antenna or if you want a dedicated antenna. Either has its advantages and disadvantages. A shared antenna means you need to purchase a splitter (Mill Tech has a bunch). A dedicated antenna means a tougher install as you need to run wires and mount the new antenna.

Now after saying all that... A very popular option is to replace your VHF radio with a standard horizon GX2200. The advantage of this is you just replace the VHF and get AIS (receive only) without anything else. You can view AIS targets right on the radio, or have the same 2 wire connection send AIS data to your Lowrance. The disadvantage of this path is Receive only and many users have issues getting DSC to work with this radio.
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Old 08-09-2015, 12:40   #3
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Re: integrating AIS into my chartplotter

What is the Radio you have? And does it support AIS now?

Do you have a NMEA2000 network running, If so then getting a Lowrance link-8 radio which has AIS recieve and N2K would be the easiest option. It is just plug and play and you will get GPS to the radio and AIS to the Ellite with no mucking around with the NMEA0183 wires. I don't know if the SH radios have NMEA2000 yet.

Also is you wish to add another NMEA2000 chart plotter it would share all the information to that too. There are alot of posts here about 183 wiring and the hassels setting it up. N2K is much simpler to add extra componants in the future. and a N2K starter kit is relatively cheap.
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